Very recently I started getting back into computer games. For the longest time I wouldn’t believe it*, I simply stopped playing. I know that part of the reason I stopped was my Mum always going on about them being kids things and all those other types of things Mums say.
But when I was a teenager man did I play computer games. The funny thing is though, nearly the whole time I was playing games I was playing football games; Championship Manager (which later became Football Manager), Pro Evolution Soccer, Pro Evolution Soccer 2 and so on and so forth. These weren’t a virtual replacement for real world football though, oh no, these were supplementing what I was doing in real life. My mum might still stick steadfastly to her negative view on games, but there was never a chance I’d fall into the trap that seems to have snared the generation behind me and is another typical lament of older people – computer games not supplementing but instead replacing real world interactions. For me, and my friends, that would never do. We had to be outside.
I’d play football from sunrise till sunset, then come inside and play football games on the computers that were rapidly becoming more powerful and impressive as I also became, well, taller; The SNES, N64, Playstation 2, Dreamcast. When I decided that I might just mention computer games in relation to storytelling on this here blog, I wasn’t vouching on such a vivid trip down memory lane, but taken a trip I have.
And so it was last year that I had my first real hankering to play computer games for the first time in a very long time and as is often the case when you’re looking back fondly on something, you try and recreate that same feeling; so off I went to a local retro game shop (yeah I realise that the Playstation 2 could hardly be defined as retro in the strictest sense) and I purchased –
I purchased a couple of other games as well. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t have the original Playstation 2, the slim version not really providing the same emotional attachment.
In relation to the football games, through younger family members I’d seen and played some of the newer ones (and it was a dark, dark day a couple of years ago when I had to admit that yes, Pro Evolution Soccer had been usurped by FIFA. For a full understanding of that awful realisation you’d certainly need some context but, if I take that particular turning off of memory lane we’d be here all day as that involves a whole load of other memories) and so the old attachment and feelings weren’t so readily brought back.
IN the case of GTA: Vice City though, that was a different story. I loved that as much as the first time I had played it, Vice City being one of the few ‘story’ games I played, the other, more prominent one in my memory being this epic of an adventure –
1998 y’all, France 98, my first year of secondary school – amazeballs.
And so, there I was playing Vice City and in that roundabout way your mind comes to nestle on a particular thought which really isn’t that revelatory but that still makes a lightbulb go off, I thought ‘hey, you know what? I love stories. I write them, I read them, I watch them, why don’t I play them? I mean, these days the graphics must be amazing and if there are good stories out there then I want to be playing them and living those to.’
So I went and I purchased this –
along with a few games, the first two I completed being these two –
In fact, Red Dead was the first ‘story’ game I’d completed, owing to my already stated preference for sports games. And car games actually, car games always kept me occupied as well.
I even bought this –
Dark days man, dark days. Although, in my humble opinion, it isn’t as good as FIFA 11, or was it FIFA 10, one of those really was so good from what I played of it. And this one has Gareth Bale on the front in a Real Madrid shirt, so, you know, kill me now. That video I’ve linked to was meant to make me feel better but now I just miss him even more. Still, sit back and enjoy that vid because it features a supreme set of goals across one season.
and I have to say that all of them have been fantastic and as enjoyable story wise as any other stories I’ve taken in in the same time period.
So what is the point of all of this rambling on? Nothing really, except to say that computer games are awesome and well worth the time.
And hey, if they’re good enough for Frank Underwood (can you say segueway?) then they’re good enough for me.
House of Cards
Seeing as I have Netflix I thought it about time that I gave one of their own shows a watch, and House of Cards season one certainly did not disappoint. I haven’t started season two just yet, preferring instead to let season one sit in my mind a bit and you know what, the character that springs to my mind whenever I think about this show isn’t Mr Underwood, although he is a very good character; it is his wife, Mrs Underwood that for me really elevates this show.
She is just such an awesome character, full of nuance. So well developed, so well written, so well acted, I often find myself intimidated and then sorry for her, all in one episode. Feeling sorry really isn’t the right choice of words, it’s more a sense of being drawn to her.
Power, vulnerability, strength, weakness, intelligence, all of these – plus the requisite talents of manipulation and mastery of Machiavellian tactics that seems an essential part of the skill set of anyone on this show looking to get ahead – they all radiate from what for me is one of the more interesting characters I’ve encountered recently.
*Spoilers be here*
Whilst I like Frank, what he did to Russo, for now at least doesn’t sit well with me. I kind of wish murder hadn’t have come into it. We already knew he was a manipulative man who would stop at nothing, but I wish that nothing for once didn’t mean a life being taken. This is because it was more fun watching him use all of the other tactics, underhand or not, to achieve his aims. Now that line has been crossed, they’ll always be able to fall back on, ‘well he did it before, why not again’ whenever he’s in a real bind.
I also would’ve liked to see how they would’ve developed Russo, his character really grew on me.
Still, it is a very good show.
For my song today, it had to be this. A song that thematically dove tails perfectly with everything I mentioned about computer games.
*I’ve always loved that line Morpheus says.